From Hong Kong considering banning Telegram to Turkey’s potential block of Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership – Here is your May 18 news briefing

From Hong Kong considering banning Telegram to Turkey’s potential block of Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership – Here is your May 18 news briefing
Source: Apple

To start off, we’re looking into:

Hong Kong might ban Telegram

According to local newspaper Sing Tao Daily, Hong Kong authorities might restrict public access to Telegram, a widely-used messaging service, over issues with “doxxing,” the online exposure of sensitive and personal information.

While it remains unclear how government authorities intend to go about this, they would likely either block public access entirely or remove the app from local stores – a move that often requires cooperation from local service providers. Regardless, the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data said it’s entitled to block access to messages when necessary, especially those considered doxxing.

Since Telegram serves as a way for citizens to stay updated on the news regarding pro-democracy activists, its ban would pose further concerns about Beijing’s influence over the city’s cyber freedoms.

Housing perks for families with three children in China

China housing
Source: Xinhua News Agency

Last year, China decided to implement a three-child policy amid record low birth rates since 1950. Shortly after, the COVID-19 pandemic kicked off, and to top that off, the property market was struggling with Evergrande at the forefront of the country’s property market woes.

Now though, Chinese cities have found a way to counteract the seemingly unrelated problems. For example, China’s eastern city of Hangzhou is now letting families with three children buy another residence and obtain priority when buying new homes. To avail of these perks, though, the third kid has to be born after May 31 last year, which is when China abolished its two-child policy.

This is in line with the Chinese government’s principle, which is that “houses are for living in, not for speculation,” a principle that officials have repeated, especially after the overdevelopment of the nation’s housing market and the capital crackdowns in the industry.

Oligarchs to pay to rebuild Ukraine?

rebuild Ukraine
FILE PHOTO: European Union flags fly outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, March 6, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman

However the war in Ukraine ends, one thing is certain – someone will have to pay to rebuild the country. The question, then, is who? For example, in the first month of the war, some predicted that there was US$119 billion worth of damage done to Ukraine’s infrastructure alone.

According to a leaked proposal draft, one option the EU is mulling over is that Russian oligarchs should, or at least that the money seized from those oligarchs should be put towards the effort. This would be in addition to other financing efforts that could equal up to US$1.1 trillion, according to people familiar with the discussions.

But the EU also said it couldn’t really find all this money on its own, so it’s looking into some more creative solutions to finance the rebuilding. For example, Brussels officials have also called for the entire EU to borrow together to finance loans for Kyiv, which, if it goes through, would be the second time in its history that the bloc has borrowed as a whole rather than as individual member states.

Fuel shortage in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka crisis
Ranil Wickremesinghe, newly appointed prime minister, arrives at a Buddhist temple after his swearing-in ceremony, amid the country’s economic crisis, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, May 12, 2022. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte

Newly appointed Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said in an address on Monday that the country had only one day’s worth of petrol and that it needed US$75 million this week to pay for essential imports. He also said the country would have to print more money just to pay government wages.

The country is facing its worst economic crisis in 70 years, and now a shortage of fuel and medicine, among other things, has people desperate.

But Wickremesinghe also mentioned that there could be a potential credit line with India coming in the next few days. He also promised there wouldn’t be a food crisis, saying families would get three meals a day.

Turkey pushes back against Sweden and Finland

Ibrahim Kalin, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman and chief foreign policy adviser, speaks during an interview with Reuters in Istanbul, Turkey May 14, 2022. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

Without the agreement of all NATO members, new countries can’t join the security group.

With that, Turkey, a key NATO member, said hours after Sweden and Finland announced they would seek membership that it would oppose their bid.

Why? President Erdogan says that the two Nordic countries harbor members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group Turkey views as a terrorist organization.

Russia has also come out to say that even though the two countries’ entrance into the security alliance wouldn’t directly threaten the country, it would lead to retaliation if any military is expanded.

To end, we’ll look into:

The things you do to keep your people happy

As you may know, it’s quite an employee market right now. So even though your crypto and stock investments may not be looking too promising, you can bet that top firms will be doing everything they can to keep you around and prevent you from going to their competitors.

At top tech firms – think Tesla and Google – interns are making US$5,000 a month. This is similar to some top-tier firms on Wall Street.

COVID also made many of us realize that there’s a lot more to life than the 9-5 grind, with Ben Zweig, a labor economist, saying, “It’s a little corny, but meaning seems to be more important than it used to be."

With that, Microsoft has announced that it’s planning to “nearly double" its company budget for employee salary increases to keep its people around and help mitigate inflation. There will also be a boost of 25% of stock compensation for mainly its “early to mid-career team members."

In other news …

🗃Netflix is laying off 150 employees (mostly in the US) after losing subs for the first time in a decade. The company is also expecting to lose another 2 million next quarter after pulling out of Russia and fewer movie hits.

🇨🇳China Vice Premier Liu spoke with the countries’ tech big wigs on Tuesday, where he publicly expressed support for the sector and IPOs. Both Hong Kong and US-listed shares of Chinese tech companies rose.

✈️WSJ has reported that the deadly China Eastern Airline Corp plane crash earlier this year may have been intentional, with a source familiar with the US authorities’ preliminary assessment saying that someone was in the cockpit putting in controls that sent the plane nosediving.

🌧China is experiencing heavy rains and flooding, and some are expecting this year’s flooding to be as bad as last year when several hundred died.

🇭🇰Hong Kong proceeds with opening up even though its logging hundreds of COVID cases daily.

💰JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon has about five more years in the company hot seat. Today, shareholders voted on whether the man deserved the US$52.6 million retention award he got last year, with only 31% showing approval.

🤝Elon Musk says Twitter must prove that bots make up less than 5% of users on the platform for the US$44 billion buyout to proceed.

Written and put together by Jake Shropshire, Christine Dulion, Julianna Barcela and Krystal Lai